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8 Festive treats you really shouldn’t feed your dog this Christmas

With Christmas celebrations in full swing, most of us will no doubt be indulging in a few extra treats this season. And, as a nation of dog lovers, many of us are also likely to be treating our pooches to some festive goodies too.  But, while there’s nothing wrong with treating yourselves at this time of year, it’s important to remember that there are some Christmas human snacks that can be toxic and even poisonous to your dog.

So, before you dish out the leftovers to your pooch, make sure you’re aware of what you can and cannot give them. To help shed some light, the nutritional experts at Burns Pet Nutrition have put together a roundup of the key foods to keep away from your pet’s plate this Xmas.

1. Turkey legs

It’s strongly advised not to give your dogs a turkey thigh or leg as the large bones within them could cause choking. At the same time, the smaller splintered pieces can cause irritation to the gut or, in more serious cases, puncture the stomach wall.

2. Mince pies

They might be a delicious after dinner snack for humans, but mince pies – along with other currant-based festive sweet treats like Christmas pudding and fruit cake – should not be fed to your pooch because they contain raisins, sultanas and grapes – all of which are toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure. Many of these desserts also contain alcohol, which goes without saying, shouldn’t be given to dogs.

3. Bulb vegetables

Onion and bulb vegetables like leeks and shallots, as well as herbs like garlic and chives are an absolute no-no for dogs. They are dangerous to dogs and eating them can cause stomach and gut irritation as well as potentially damage red blood cells, resulting in anaemia.

It’s worth noting that all forms of onion and garlic are problematic, regardless of whether they are raw, cooked, dehydrated or contained within something else like a sauce or stuffing. Onions are particularly toxic, and signs of poisoning often only occur a few days after your dog has eaten them.

4. Pigs in blankets

While there’s no doubt that your dogs would enjoy these, salty, fatty foods such as turkey skin and pigs in blankets can cause stomach upset, so unless you’d like a dog that’s, well, as ill as a dog, it’s best to keep these away.

5. Nuts

Due to their high oil and fat content, as well as their potential for choking, nuts should be kept well away from dogs. The high levels of fats can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets. Macadamia nuts and black walnuts in particular should be avoided as they can make dogs very ill. Within 12 hours of ingestion, these nuts can cause a variety of worrisome symptoms like weak back legs, increased body temperature, vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors and fever.

6. Chocolate

You’ll have heard it time and time before, but chocolate, regardless of whether it’s white, milk or dark, really isn’t good for dogs. While ‘theobromine’ – a key ingredient found in chocolate – is easy for us to metabolise, dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.

At higher doses, signs can even progress to an abnormal heart rhythm, raised body temperature, rapid breathing and seizures. Sweets can also be a problem as they often contain a sweetener called xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.

7. Dairy products

Because pets don’t have large amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products like cheese and cream can be difficult for dogs to digest, resulting in diarrhoea or vomiting.

8. Gravy

Much like turkey skin, gravy has a high salt content, so you should refrain from letting your dog have a taste. It also often contains onions or garlic powder which are dangerous.

So, what parts of your Christmas dinner are safe for dogs?


Your dog can enjoy small amounts of boneless, skinless white meat – just be sure to triple check for any rogue bones or other foods amongst it


Feeding your dog some carrot, parsnip, Brussel sprouts, green beans, peas, courgette, spinach, cauliflower, or broccoli florets, is fine. Dogs will particularly love mashed carrot and swede but don’t add butter or seasoning to their portion.


Fed in moderation, plain mashed or boiled potatoes, without the addition of salt or butter, is a tasty treat for your dog. Just remember, potatoes are starchy, which dogs can struggle to digest, so limit the amount you give them